Union minister Giriraj Singh on Thursday stoked controversy by claiming that most students in Christian schools earn a place at Indian Institutes of Technology and become engineers, but “eat beef in foreign countries” because of lack of education in Indian “culture and traditional values”, The Hindu reported.

“Later, the parents complain that their children are not taking care of them,” ANI quoted the minister as saying. “I say a ‘sloka’ [hymn] of Bhagavad Gita must be taught in every school,” said the Union minister of animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries.

Opposition leaders in Bihar – Singh represents the state’s Begusarai constituency in Parliament – criticised Singh for making “uncalled for statements”. “Mr Singh is known for giving such controversial statements to remain in news,” said Rashtriya Janata Dal MLA Bhai Virendra. “I urge media people not to give him space for such uncalled for statements and he will stop opening his mouth.”

Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Akhilesh Singh lashed out at Singh for making “a ridiculous statement”. Rashtriya Lok Samata Party spokesperson Anand Madhav too condemned Singh for his “unnecessary statement”.

Singh is known for making controversial remarks. Last July, he suggested that the voting rights of people with more than two children should be revoked, expressing shock over the “population explosion” in India since the Independence. In June, he had mocked politicians in the state, including a party colleague, for attending an Iftar party.

During the Lok Sabha poll campaign, the Election Commission had censured Singh for a remark about Muslims. “Those who cannot say Vande Mataram or cannot respect the motherland, the nation will never forgive them,” Singh had said. “My ancestors died at the Simaria ghat and no grave was built for them but you [Muslims] need three hand spans of space.”